What’s up, fight fans? We know you’re visiting The A.V. Club for our breathless coverage of backstage brouhaha and on-stage assaults that have become a fixture of awards season. For the last few years, the Oscars and the Golden Globes have become the reigning kings of celebrity fisticuffs and needless sniping, upping the ante in terms of hardcore violence on Hollywood’s biggest nights.
But not the Emmys.
An institution built on giving the same shows and actors awards for playing old Sheldons while seemingly ignoring Young Sheldons, the Television Academy often tries to tamp down the expectation that the evening’s festivities will devolve into an airing of grievances and the occasional bit of bloodshed. So last night, the Academy put on a show that was (mostly) devoid of the type of online chatter and publicist backpedaling. The night’s host, Kenan Thompson, was affable and funny. The presenters were quick, and the fabulous Jennifer Coolidge made a show of being played off the stage. It was all very nice.
Unfortunately, nice doesn’t equal ratings. And without any severe controversy to manufacture or react to, viewers stayed far away from the Emmys, bringing its ratings to a record low. Per Variety, ratings were down 25% from last year, and we have to assume the cause is a lack of controversy or the lack of Halston, Ryan Murphy’s Netflix miniseries that people can’t stop talking about. Compared to last year’s CBS telecast, which netted 7.9 million viewers, this year’s Emmys were down roughly two million, bringing a total of 5.9 million people watching category after category of Succession actors facing off against each other. And not even in the fun Succession way, but in the magnanimous and supportive one (though, it was a valiant effort from Bryan Cox).
This year was even lower than 2020’s Emmys, and the 6.37 million people who were bored enough in quarantine to see Julia Garner, Succession, and Zendaya win their first Emmys. That was a pre-Lasso time when Schitt’s Creek was the friendly comedy that everyone wouldn’t stop recommending until the Emmys said, “fine” we’ll give Dan Levy even more power in this town. So now we have an advertising landscape awash in Levy. Visible Wireless ads, Citibank commercials, and Tostitos spots have become Levy delivery vehicles, a chance to spot his spiky hair and chunky glasses while making faces that scream, “Awkward!” Who does this guy think he is, Kevin Hart?
Is this what we want? Do we want Ted Lasso to return to commercials? The public voted with their eyeballs and said, “No.” Nevertheless, we know the truth: Resistance is futile.